Publication - Research and analysis

Review of Equality Evidence in Rural Scotland

Published: 13 Feb 2015

This review focuses on 6 protected characteristics of age, disability, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation and considers how presence of these protected characteristics may impact on access to, and satisfaction with, service provision in rural Scotland.

Review of Equality Evidence in Rural Scotland



2.1 The main aim of the report is to provide a profile of equality groups in rural areas, give an overview of the various equality issues and their impact on a range of policy issues in rural Scotland and to highlight key messages from the relevant research in this area.

2.2 This report identifies key facts, relevant research and evidence gaps for the 6 protected characteristics: age, disability, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation across a range of policy areas including: employment, health, housing, transport, poverty, education, and discrimination in rural Scotland. The review does not consider the protected characteristics of gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity due to a lack of statistical data and relevant literature.

2.3 This review does not consider environmental policy areas such as access and use of the outdoors and influences on land use decision making[3].

2.4 Specifically, the report:

  • Establishes baseline research on the 6 protected characteristics in a rural context.
  • Identifies employment, education, health, housing policy related research findings
  • Identifies gaps in the evidence available
  • Provides a general backdrop for Equality Impact Assessments (EQIA) for rural policies and equality budgeting


2.5 An initial search was conducted for relevant journal articles using a number of search engines including Kande, Idox and Google Scholar and using a comprehensive list of pre-determined search terms. This yielded a limited number of journal articles. A search was then conducted on the SG website to identify any relevant research publications in this area. A full bibliography is included for readers interested in researching further detail. In addition, the Equalities Evidence Finder[4] was a valuable source of information for key facts in relation to the 6 protected characteristics and in identifying key publications across a number of policy areas.

2.6 Information is included in the report from a number of datasets including: Census 2001 and 2011; Scottish Household Survey; Scottish Health Survey; Annual Population Survey and Labour Force Survey. In addition, primary analysis was conducted on some of the datasets, i.e. the Scottish Household Survey, and the Scottish Health Survey.

Limitations of the research

2.7 Contemporary research is scarce and as a result some of the literature referenced in the review is quite dated. While such evidence can provide useful insights, there are obvious limitations with this data, particularly around its relevance to the current policy context. Where possible the most up to date information is included in the review to ensure the evidence presented is as relevant to the current policy context as possible. In addition, priority is given to research carried out and documents published after 2000.

2.8 Sample numbers are often too small to provide any meaningful analysis in a rural-urban context. This is particularly the case for the protected characteristics of race, religion and sexual orientation. No questions on sexual orientation are included in the Census so baseline figures for this population group are based on estimates.

2.9 Due to a lack of evidence and timing of the review only 6 of the 9 protected characteristics have been discussed: gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity are not considered. However, lack of data also impacts on the depth of consideration of the included characteristics with a limited range of evidence found particularly for religion and sexual orientation.

2.10 As a general rule only information specifically related to rural Scotland is included in the report. Where comparisons are deemed to be useful, Scotland wide information is included. It is outwith the scope of the review to include any EU or other international studies. However, some relevant UK based studies are referenced in the bibliography.

Structure of the report

2.11 This paper begins by presenting the key facts available in relation to each of the protected equality characteristics; age, disability, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation in a rural Scotland context.

2.12 The rural key facts in relation to the policy areas of employment, health, housing, transport, education, poverty, and discrimination are discussed for protected equality groups. Whether or not these policy issues are discussed in relation to a particular equality group depends on the literature available and on the relevance of the policy area on the particular protected characteristic being discussed.

2.13 Table 1 below outlines which policy issues are discussed in relation to which protected characteristic in this paper.

Table 1: Policy issues discussed by protected characteristic

Older people Young People Disability Race Religion Sex Sexual orientation


Email: Liz Hawkins